After we spent a couple hours wading Wildcat Creek, my friend asked if I needed some sanitizer. We had just put our rods in the bed of my truck for the short drive home when he asked the question.

“I’m OK,” was all I said.

That got me thinking about how times have changed from my own childhood years wading that same creek.

If you spent your most impressionable years prior to the 1980s, have you ever stopped to think how fortunate you are to still be around? The world we currently live in never fails to raise a collective eyebrow.

When you look at how we now raise our own kids, two things come to mind. We either surmise how we survived our own childhood or we wonder just how out of control today’s world has become.

For example, back in the day every kid had a bicycle — after all, it was our primary means of transportation. But bicycle helmets or elbow pads were not even thought of, let alone worn, and I would hate to think of the ridicule heaped upon the poor soul who did.

My generation also never wore seatbelts. Car seats for tots were not invented, or at least I never remember them. Kids enjoyed travelling with their parents. It was fun looking out the window at the passing landscape and in the event a seatbelt was needed, the extended arm from our mom or dad seemed to work just fine.

Back then everything was covered with lead-based paints. It’s hard to imagine how many paint chips were actually ingested. Speaking of lead, who needed needle-nose pliers when fishing? We would crimp lead split shot sinkers with our teeth.

We ate delicious sandwiches, our hands encrusted in dirt or in some cases we would rinse them in the creek, and if fishing turned slow, we swam. Think of the amount of creek water that passed through and over our little bodies. That was also during the peak of the industrial revolution when the discharge of pollutants were not regulated or monitored to the degree they are today.

Fishing as a kid was also different. Tackle boxes holding back dozens of lures were too big to carry on our bikes. Empty plastic .22 boxes were all you needed to carry a few hooks, sinkers and a bobber or two. A small rope stringer fit perfectly in your back pocket. If you forgot something, you learned to improvise.

When we went hunting, wearing hunter orange was not a requirement. Back then true hunting clothes sported dull red and black squares called “buffalo plaid.”

When we went out to play, we were out all day. There were no cell phones. The only requirement was to be home for supper. If we messed up we got spanked. The only “time-outs” were reserved for athletics.

We would accidentally cut ourselves, sometimes requiring a few stitches. There were occasions when we would break a bone or chip teeth. When we did get hurt there were no attorneys involved and no lawsuits with which to contend. We learned our lessons, got healed up, then moved on to the next adventure, just a little bit wiser.

We ate delicious food fried in animal fat, spread real butter on our bread and gorged ourselves on candy and pop when mom wasn’t looking. But obesity was never a problem because we played outside. We never sat in front of a video game or computer. Even if they were invented it would not have been near the fun as hanging out with your friends doing something really exciting.

We didn’t know it back then but we were creating memories we would later cherish for the rest of our lives. No computer could ever do that!

The world we live in has seen considerable change, some for the better, some not. Regardless, I still have my hunting and fishing. Yes, that too has seen significant change. Now I have boats and trailers to maintain, large tackle bags to organize, electronics to update and the list goes on. But one thing you won’t find in any of my tackle is hand sanitizer!

Every once in a while I still sneak away, alone, to try and fool a few fish with just a handful of lures while standing waist deep in one of my childhood streams. I still see the same sloping bank where my brothers and I would build small campfires as we caught goggle-eyes.

Even in today’s modern world fishing does not have to be about the kind of high-tech gear you own or the high-class fish you target.

Some things should never change. Like enjoying a personal connection with our natural world, while at the same time strengthening our relationships with family and friends. It’s about growing and maintaining respect.

For kids and adults the simple act of fishing is about learning life’s lessons in a realistic, wholesome kind of way. So buckle up the kids, grab some hand sanitizer and make the time to take them while they are still young. If they are at that right age and already have a safe place to fish, give them a cell phone and tell them “good-luck” and be careful. Just make sure they are home for supper.


The Kokomo Reservoir was the site of the latest catfish tournament sponsored by Soremouth Tackle. Tournament director Adam Cardwell was impressed with the 30 teams taking part in the event, which was held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Each team were permitted to weigh in their largest three catfish.

After the lengthy weigh in it was the team of Charles Zedmon and John Cox winning first place and also the honor for biggest fish. Their three fish totaled 39.55 pounds with their largest, a flathead, tipping the scales at 20.33 pounds. Daniel Bray and Michael Claar snagged second with three fish weighing 20.17 pounds. Third place went to Landon Miller and Justin Harshman with three fish dropping the scales at 13.98 pounds.


• Frank Brown took top honors at last Kokomo Reservoir open team bass tourney, sponsored by Cardwell Built Construction and Roby’s Bullseye Outdoors. Brown carried three largemouth bass to the scales totaling 6.22 pounds. Second place went to Matt Krieg with two fish weighing 5.43 pounds. Ethan Miller and Adam Blankenberger raked in third with three fish weighing 5.36 pounds. A largemouth bass tipping the scales at 3.85 pounds gave the team of Henry Cavazos and Wayne Eads the weekly event's award for biggest bass.

• Bob Rose and Wayne Nolder swept Tuesday’s Delphi-Delco team bass tourney held on Mississinewa Reservoir. They won the event with four fish weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces and also had the tourney’s biggest fish with a largemouth topping out at 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Second place went to Mike Harrison and Bill luster with two fish weighing an ounce shy of 3 pounds. Jim Helvig and Larry Richards grabbed third with one fish tipping the scales at 2 pounds, 6 ounces.

John Martino is the Tribune's outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at

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